A Sight for Sore Eyes

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

The big storm is over and the high country is covered in a new mantle of pure white. I poked my head out the door at sunrise to see what kind of of morning it was going to be and I was elated to be able to see down the valley all the way to the majestic Sangre de Cristo Range for this first time in months. Dust, haze and smoke from the Decker fire have all but made the mountains invisible until the big snowstorm cleaned it all up.

Hope you enjoy the view as much as I do, via pixels on the computer screen! As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

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First Light

Did three things before first light today that I was not planning to do… The first was to get out of bed before first light. I had the day off and was planning to sleep in and catch up on some shut eye, but apparently I am used to arising at 4:30 a.m. now and that is just the way it is. I was also not going to take any pictures and the third thing I was never going to do again, ever… was to ride my mountain bike! After I tried it last week for the first time on these hills that was going to be it forever. My legs were quivering when I got done 😦 The reason I was not going to take any pictures is because I am tired of shooting from the same location all the time and also I watched a Youtube video where the title and theme were, “Nobody cares about your photography.”, which is probably true but just the same, a very discouraging thought.

Sangre de Cristo Lake of Fog

So unfortunately I was awake at 4:00 and Big Dog as eager to go for a walk. So without the camera we headed down the trail for his morning duties. Saw some deer in the darkness running towards the hills and then I noticed that there was an odd white glow coming from the direction of the Sangre de Cristo range. In the darkness I couldn’t tell if it was a new mantle of snow or clouds or fog or what. I could tell the sky was clear though and that the red band of alpenglow was descending upon the mountain range. So I thought, well… I’d better not miss this, it could be good!

Took the dog home, grabbed my backpack and jumped on the bike. I was not going to make it back there in time on foot and the mountain bike was the only way I was going to make the show. Fortunately my legs seem a bit stronger this week, maybe my decision to quit the bike riding was a bit premature? As I neared the overlook to the mountain range I could not believe my eyes, the fog bank and cloud action was some of the most amazing that I have seen in the Arkansas River Valley at the base of the Sangre.

Sangre de Cristo Lake of Fog

I sat on a rock at the best spot and watched it all unfold. The alpenglow effect descended upon the mountains and the fog began to blow around building into tall spires almost as big as the mountains they were obscuring. I put into effect all the information I have been gathering about the best way to photograph this valley at the base of the Sangre, trying various shutter speeds and even my B&W circular polarizer for a bit. Finally the sun crested the mountains behind me and the fog began to burn off. As the mist turned to vapor in the air the Sangre became too obscure to get good pictures and I headed for home.

Lol… as it turns out though, my bike riding was not yet done for the day… Big Dog saw something he wanted to chase and snapped his wire cable in a bid for some temporary freedom. It wasn’t long before he had me on mountain bike along with two of Cripple Creek’s finest circling the blocks in their black and white SUV’s. After about an hour of chase he finally blundered into a fenced yard and decided to visit the people having a hitherto relaxing morning on their deck. Knowing him he was probably hoping for some burgers and fries, but they corralled him and I was able to give the police a thumbs up and they too went about their business.

Now I’m working on the pictures… have to say the scene was pretty amazing! Hope you enjoy them too 🙂 I will soon be putting these on my website for sale as wall art and RF stock so stay tuned!

Zombies

I was thinking of naming this post Zombie Portfolios, but just plain Zombies had a better ring to it. Well anyway, morning for me came well before sunrise today with a quick check of my email on my phone, which also doubles as the first light I can reach when I wake up. For the second month in a row, the much anticipated payment from my formerly most profitable agency has not arrived 😦 Hard to believe it has come to this but I should probably just close that zombie port, it’s just competing with my own website anyway.

Alpenglow sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo

Thought about just going back to sleep, but Big Dog was wide awake and ready to go so I grudgingly got up, got dressed and turned on the coffee pot. A quick jaunt out the front door with the two dogs for their morning duties and I figured I was good for a few minutes for a cup of coffee. Soon however, the allure of another beautiful alpenglow sunrise urged me out of my chair and onto the trail. As we made our way through the woods in the pre dawn darkness I could see the telltale red band working it’s way down the sky towards the horizon and, it looked like my timing was going to be perfect if I just kept walking at the current pace.

Just as I had hoped, the beautiful red band of alpenglow effect converged upon the Sangre de Cristo just as Big Dog and I arrived at the overlook. It was a nice sunrise with beautiful color and very even contrast for a change. Fifteen minutes later the show was over and we were on our way home. The morning light was shining on the mountainside to the north and I spotted a herd of mule deer traversing the summit, way too far away for a good picture. But the barren aspen trees near the top were kind of cool so I’ll be taking a look at those captures for use on my stock site. I’m a bit slow today getting these images posted today, but please be sure to check my image site for recent arrivals!

Stormy Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

I was going to just sleep in this morning but as fate would have it, I was awake at 5:00 a.m. thinking about the mountains. So a quick cup of coffee and I was off into the pre-dawn darkness with the Big Dog in tow. Actually I should say Son Boy was off with me in tow 😦 Fortunately today I remembered to put him on two leashes, one to stand on while I steady my shot and the other to keep him from going on a half day romp in the wilderness!

Sangre de Cristo Storm Clouds

Sangre de Cristo Storm Clouds

Well anyway it was a chilly morning so I remembered the hoodie under my jacket, which turned out to be a life saver because the wind was blowing about a hundred miles per hour on top of the mountain and it was COLD! We arrived just at sunrise and the majesty of the scene was jaw dropping. Storm clouds had begun to fill the Arkansas River Valley, blowing through and billowing at a pretty good rate of speed! I was hoping that I would capture the motion of the clouds without them just looking blurry. As the scene unfolded I noticed that I might be able to see through the valley a bit better if I moved a few yards to the north. Easier said than done though, after sitting  on one knee for 15 minutes in the bone chilling cold I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to get up! Fortunately for me Big Dog is always ready and good for a boost up. A simple “lets go” and Son Boy has the heavy duty 4wd engaged and moving 🙂

The new location was good so we shot from that position for a while until I noticed that there were a couple of utility poles interfering with the view towards the right. So off we went to a third position for another fifteen minutes or so as the clouds began to build and swirl around even more. Finally I was an absolute ice cube with frozen hands that were getting too stiff and numb to even feel the camera controls. On my way out I noticed a couple more good views, so I had to gut out a few more shots in the cold and wind. Finally I was just too cold to continue and we began the long trek home. I have to say, it has been a while since I have been that chilled to the bone! Took me a couple of hours and a pot of coffee before the shivering stopped!

Anyway, I hope you find the pictures interesting and worth a peek on my website. Just click the pictures and a large preview will appear along with the many different wall art designs and cool household and gift items!

A Better Start


Didn’t set the alarm this morning but was still hoping for an early enough morning to be able to get in on the nice lighting. Didn’t quite hit the perfect moment, but definitely better than yesterday! I awoke at 7:20 a.m. and took Big Dog out for his morning business just in time to notice that 7:20 was the perfect moment to have been down the trail a couple of miles to catch the early morning pinkness still available over the Arkansas Valley and on the distant Sangre de Cristo Range.

Hazy Sangre de Cristo Mountains

By the time I got going it was still the perfect time for some wildlife photography, so I was hoping to see some deer or elk, maybe a coyote or fox still out hunting or maybe even my favorite resident, the Rough Legged Hawk. Other than a few encouraging tracks in the sand, no luck at all in that department. But the mountains were still pretty, minus the pink morning light that I was hoping for. There was however still a hint of early morning color over the valley and on the snow capped peaks and I could not resist snapping a few.

Despite being another major disappointment, the day was not entirely lost… I obtained some good information that I can put to use tomorrow. I know when to set the alarm, 6:30 a.m. should be the perfect time to wake up, giving me plenty of time to be out the door by 7:00 and down the trail a couple of miles to my favorite vista. I need to get this done before the sun starts coming up even earlier later in the spring and summer. Also need to get those shots before the fires start and I can’t see the Sangre at all. It has been a very dry year and the specter of a summer of mountain wildfires is looming large 😦

Today’s picture is of course a very hazy view of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Range over the Arkansas Valley with the layers of foothills leading up to the rugged range and the continental divide separating east from west. Always hoping my readers will take the time to view my website where pictures are for sale as wall art and royalty free stock.

Slipping the Bonds

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air… .” John Gillespie Magee Jr.

Hawk soaring

Bird of prey soaring overhead

OK, so technically my feet are still on the ground, but when I am in the solitude of mountains above 11,000 feet with the hawks and the eagles soaring overhead it feels like I have slipped the bonds of earth. Today it also feels like I have finally slipped the bonds of civilization. I have been a bit disappointed since moving here that I have not been able to find an easy way to get beyond the limits of the town and into the wilderness that taunts me from the edges of town. To make matters worse, the clutch went out on the old Dodge a couple of weeks ago and I have been limited to the distance that my feet will carry me. Today I decided that Big Dog and I were going to find a way past the dreaded cattle guard and explore the mountainside on the southwest side of town. Fortunately someone has taken down the gate beside the guard so that my four footed hiking buddy could pass and we were home free.

Sangre de Cristo Winter Morning

Sangre de Cristo Winter Morning

We made our way to a hilltop where there is an awesome view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range and few people have experienced. I love it when I  get out to views that I know not many people have set eyes upon 🙂 Didn’t see any large wildlife, but there are hawks and eagles circling the hillsides there and they are a challenge to photograph to be sure!

As I looked around I noticed a wealth of excellent mountain bike trails that I will have to explore that are well beyond the distance that my feet would like to take me. One of my great disappointments in the Woodland Park area was the dearth of places to ride a bike without getting killed by bike hating lunatics in pickup trucks. My bike has been chained to the wall since moving here and I’m sure the tires are flat but hopefully they aren’t dry rotted as well because I can’t wait to get out there 🙂

I am also determined to remember to bring along my circular polarizer as I believe it would dramatically add to the appeal of the distant Sangre’s. But for the rest of today though, me and Big Dog will be content to hide from the wicked wind that has developed on this mountaintop! A sandblasting is not something that I feel I need 😦 Maybe tomorrow!

As always, these pictures and more will be available on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas, matted and framed and as RF stock for those needing commercial licensing. Also available are many cool gift and household items including yoga mats, blankets, pillows, apparel, battery  chargers and more!

Some Days There’s Only One

Not such a successful couple of days shooting, if you want to count keepers. Yesterday there was a beautiful sunrise lighting the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and I was able to get a few shots of it before the light changed… Unfortunately none of them turned out. It was a difficult situation with the a nearby landscape in front of the more distant mountains. I assumed that the horizon was far enough away for the lens to focus on infinity, making both the foreground and the mountains both sharply in focus, but I was wrong. Usually that works, but in this case there was just too much distance between the two landscapes and the foreground details were simply too close. The foreground would have disappeared nicely into silhouette and the distant mountains would have been sharp, if I had chosen more accurately. I should have tried both, but apparently I thought I had nailed it. Oh well, live and learn, with emphasis on learning!

Sangre Mountain Sunrise

Sunrise and Fog on the Sangre

On the other hand maybe any photo batch that has one keeper could be considered a success. I was luckier this morning, I made the same mistake but in this case the distant mountains were shrouded in clouds and fog and the lack of sharpness there didn’t adversely affect the image 🙂 So, lesson learned and one keeper to show for it.

The day has devolved into a cloudy windy snowy day, perfect for staying inside snuggled up on the couch buried in puppies. As always, this image and more are available for purchase from my image gallery both as wall art and commercial stock. Hope you will stop in and have a look! New images include beautiful lighting on the south face of Pikes Peak, some mountain landscapes of the Sangre and some shots of elk and deer to round it out!